The effectiveness of causes

“The quick comment might be that of course we believe in effects; otherwise why should we look for causes, whether in everyday life or in the sciences. So causes are efficacious, genuinely effective. I believe that this quick comment is in fact the right one: but its justification is not obvious and can be challenged.

It can be challenged because it is not clear what such “efficacy” consists in. It is said to be the relic of an anthropomorphic view of the world, in which forces in nature are thought of as pushing and pulling and making things happen because we ourselves push and pull and make things happen. So to believe in natural efficacy is an animistic superstition.”

Dorothy Emmet

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